Are expensive skin creams worth it?

September 16th, 2011

Looking in the mirror and seeing lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and dry patches can get any woman down. The alternative to Botox or surgery is using skin care creams. Thanks to science, creams are extremely effective in smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles, providing the right balance of moisture, and evening out skin tone. But if the choice is between that $300 jar of La Mer and your monthly car payment, you may be asking yourself if it’s worth it.

Are pricey skin care creams always superior to their drugstore counterparts? Here is how to evaluate the relative value of a skin-cream.


With any product a portion of the price is determined by packaging, marketing costs, and advertising. Ingredients are only part of the picture. While a skin cream may tout its exclusive formula based on the hormones of a rare sea turtle found only in the Galapagos Islands, this doesn’t always reflect its effectiveness. Many of the hard to pronounce, exotic ingredients in high priced skin creams are just selling points. 

It is important to consider a few essential ingredients when choosing a skin care cream. Be sure a cream contains antioxidants as they fight free radicals to smooth out wrinkles and heal sun damage. Antioxidants to look for include acai oil, caffeine, alpha-lipoic acid, retinol, vitamin C, and coEnzyme Q-10. Alpha-hydroxy acids are another key ingredient. These natural acids, in the form of glycolic, lactic, citric, and tartaric acids, act as exfoliants to remove dead skin cells for smoother, younger, more even-toned skin. Similar to alpha-hydroxy acids is salicylic acid. Often considered an acne treatment, it has been found that this acid actually reduces the appearances of wrinkles. Other powerful ingredients include hyaluronic acid and green tea extract.

If a cream contains some combination of these ingredients, regardless of price, it is likely worth it. Skin care creams with multiple active ingredients are the most effective.

Samples & trial sizes:

Find out if the hype surrounding a product is true before committing to buying a full-sized bottle. An effective way to determine if pricey skin care creams will work for you, is to take advantage of free samples offered at most beauty counters. If free samples aren’t available, see if it is offered in a travel size. Drug store brands aren’t as expensive and buying a jar to test it is reasonable. Give the skin care products a few weeks and if you don’t notice a difference then move on.  But if it is the cream you that you have always wanted you now know that your money will be well spent.

Product reviews:

A recent Consumer Reports piece reviewed a wide range of wrinkle creams and found that Olay Regenerist, priced around $19 at local drugstores, worked the best. However, many pricey brands were on the top of the list as well. There are many online retailers that have consumer reviews of the products they sell, read the reviews to see what has worked for others with similar problems and skin types.  To make the final decision put price, packaging, and everything else out of your mind and determine if the product has scientifically proven ingredients, if it works on a cellular level, and if there have been any studies conducted proving its effectiveness.

From there the choice is yours.  Pricey or cheap, there is a skin care cream that will work for you.

Cindi Lewis writes for a skin care and beauty products online retailer.